2014 OFA Annual Meeting, March 5-6, Columbus
Sheraton Hotel on Capitol Square
Meeting and registraion information can be found on
the OFA website. There have been some changes in the
agenda so be sure to check the schedule of events. Those staying
overnight at the Sheraton have until February 12, 2012 to register and get the
meeting rates. We are encouraging members to
contact their individual legislators to invite them to the reception and more
information will be coming to you soon about the reception. In the meantime,
you can find contact information for your legislators on the annual meeting
page of the website.
Approves Plan for ODA to Regulate Agricultural Fertilizer Applicators - Last week, the Senate approved Sub. SB 150 is intended to improve water quality
in Ohio and help reduce algae problems from widespread nutrient runoff on
Ohio’s agricultural lands. The bill will require that farmers and others
who apply fertilizers would have to be trained and certified, much the same as
pesticide applicators are trained and certified now. Training for the
certified applicators will focus on the use of best management practices.
The Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio Farmers Union testified in support of the
measure and there were no opponents as the measure was passed. The Ohio
Farm Bureau acknowledged however that this effort will be "massive” and
additional funding will be needed to carry out the program. ODA, OSU
Extension and Soil and Water Districts will all be involved in the
program. The bill modifies the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Laws
which apply to both agriculture and silviculture operations, but the new law is
specific to farming operations.
HB 375, Oil and Gas Severance Tax Proposal - The
House Ways and Means Committee is now hearing HB 375 which would increase the
severance tax oil and gas operations in Ohio, in particular create a new tax on
horizontal wells. One of the big issues of discussion is what would
happen to the revenues raised by the tax increase. A recent hearing
involved numerous interested parties who testified that some of the revenues
raised should be returned to local governments to assist with managing the
local impacts of the extraction activities and other infrastructure
needs. There has been some industry support for increasing the tax, and
at the hearing Michael Moore, the CFO of Gulfport Energy Corporation testified
that he agreed the tax revenue needs to be shared with local governments.
He acknowledged that southeastern Ohio has experienced boom and bust cycles
over the last two centuries because of its reliance on natural resources like
"lumber, coal, oil, and natural gas.” He supported some portion of the
revenues being returned to the region. The current proposal calls for a
tax increase on horizontal wells at the rate of 1% on net proceeds for the
first 5 years, and then 2% until production on the well declines, when it would
go back to 1%. (Current rate is $0.10 per barrel of oil and $0.25 per
1000 cubic feet of gas.) The Ohio Oil and Gas Association estimated
that the amount of revenue raised over the next 10 years according to the
proposed formula will be $2.07 billion and that this estimate is conservative
based on an assumption of 1,000 new wells drilled each year for the next 10
years. The Association also defended the "net proceeds” formula to the
tax which some have already opposed on the basis industry would unfairly deduct
costs from revenue estimates. In other news, Sen. President Keith Faber
said last week that he thought the severance tax should be handled as part of a
larger tax reform effort proposed by Governor Kasich in the Mid-Biennium Review
slated for later in the spring session.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Invasive Plant
Regulatory Authority - The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a
bill (SB 192) last week to give the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA)
exclusive authority to regulate invasive species. The bill was proposed
over concern that local communities, park districts and other organizations
have been trying to define species as invasive at the local level. The
authority in this bill gives ODA full regulation of that concern.
Federal Wind Power Tax Credit Ended at the
Close of the Year - A tax credit that gave wind power developers a 2.3
cent tax credit on each Kwh of energy from wind turbines expired December 31
and it is unclear whether it will be renewed by Congress, although a number of
proponents believe that there is bi-partisan support for the credit and believe
that it will be renewed. There has been interest in Congress to overhaul
the federal tax code and some believe that if that effort continues, the
renewable energy credit could be included.
Farm Bill Passed - The House passed
the Farm Bill (251-166) last week and it contained a number of key forestry
Adopted the most important items from the
Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act which will permanently bar EPA placing
logging roads and silvicultural activity under the Clean Water Act NPDES
stormwater permit system;
- Protected the inclusion of forest products in
preferred labeling and procurement for the USDA Bio-based Program;
- Changes in the Forest Inventory and Analysis
Program (FIA) that will require the Secretary of Agriculture to revise the
strategic plan for FIA and to add information on gathering more information on
forest landowners as well as more detail on supply projections;
- Maintained and strengthened a host of incentives
for forest landowners especially in the Conservation Stewardship Program;
- Maintained a focus on programs to protect
against invasive species.
You can see a convenient
summary comparison of various versions of the Farm Bill (House passed,
Senate Passed and Conference Committee passed) on the Tree Farm website.
Of Ohio’s delegation, 15 voted on the Farm bill, with 11 for and 4
can see how the Ohio delegation voted here.) Vote Now that it has
passed the House, the Farm Bill will go to the Senate for approval, which could
be voted on very soon.
Ohio Maple Syrup Production
think many of us know that Ohio is one of the leading maple syrup producing
states in the country. There are 12 maple syrup producing states in the
country and generally Ohio ranks 4th or 5th in annual
production. In 2013, it ranked 5th with the production of
155,000 gallons of maple syrup, which was significantly higher than 2012.
20 Leading U.S. Companies Remove Anti-Paper
Two Sides U.S., Inc., a global initiative by companies
in the graphic communication value chain including forestry, pulp, paper, inks,
chemicals, press, printing, publishing, and direct mail, recently announced
that over 20 leading U.S. companies have stopped using "anti-paper” green
claims that have been used to promote electronic billing and other e-services
as environmentally beneficial alternatives to paper. The decisions are
the result in large part by Two Sides efforts to make companies aware of the
unsubstantiated and erroneous claims that using paper is an environmentally
unfriendly practice. Two Sides promotes the green nature of forest
products and that use of these products should be an environmental
choice. You can read
the news release from Two Sides here.
Wood Cars Again?
The original Ford
Motor Company "Woodie” was a unique car that introduced the American
public to the station wagon concept. Use of wood in and on American cars
did not last long, but it appears that there may be a new trend back to use of
wood and wood fiber products once again in car manufacturing. A number of
automakers in the U.S. and around the world are looking seriously at using wood
once again in cars, but in ways not imagined 50 or more years ago. Here
interesting article in Bloomberg.com that talks about a number of efforts
to use wood and wood fiber components in cars.
Managing Forested Wetlands Workshop
ON March 27, 2014, OSU Extension is offering a one-day workshop on Managing
Forested Wetlands at Lake Hope State Park Lodge and Zaleski State Forest.
The workshop is designed for forestry and natural resource professionals who
deal with forest wetland issues. The workshop is free but requires
advance registration by sending an email to the Dave Apsley (email@example.com). Here is a
flyer on the workshop.